By Cameron Macdonald
Citizen News Editor
The Parade of Lights will return to Elk Grove’s streets during the evening of Saturday, Dec. 4 when the 2nd annual Illumination Holiday Festival will be held at the District56 center. Last year’s festival was canceled, due to the COVID-19 situation.
The Elk Grove Community Council, a nonprofit co-founded by former Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, is producing the festival and parade with support from the city of Elk Grove and Sutter Health.
The council created the parade in 2019 after the Old Town Elk Grove Dickens Faire’s organizers canceled their festival’s traditional evening parade, due to crowd control and safety concerns.
City spokesperson Kristyn Laurence said that organizers expect the parade route to be similar to its 2019 route. At that time, the parade started behind the Elk Grove Auto Mall at Laguna Springs Drive, traveled west past the District56 center on Civic Center Drive, and then disbanded by the Elk Grove Aquatic Center’s parking lot along Big Horn Boulevard.
Plans are to begin the parade at 6 p.m., and then have crowds stay at the District56 and watch the lighting ceremony for the city of Elk Grove’s 32-foot-tall, ribbon-shaped holiday tree.
Lynden King, a longtime organizer of local parades for events such as the Elk Grove Western Festival, is producing the Parade of Lights this year. This is the first parade that he organized before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“If I can remember how to do it,” King joked during his interview with the Citizen.
He said that organizers are now seeking more entries for the Parade of Lights. As of this week, 15 entries are signed up.
“But that’s the norm for this time of year,” King said. “We just have to get more interest and get the schools involved.”
He mentioned that current entries include neighborhood organizations, a hot rod club, and a bicycling group. The organizer hopes to include high school marching bands and youth groups such as the 4-H Club into the parade.
“I generally let anybody,” King said.
He added that he tried to avoid including a large number of horses into the parade since they “do get spooked at night.”
The parade’s 2019 debut is best remembered for being held in the heavy December rain, but that did not stop a large crowd from gathering along Civic Center Drive to watch the brightly lit floats and costumed participants such as retired Elk Grove Police Chief Bryan Noblett in a gingerbread man suit.
“(First), we had five entries, but it was amazing that we still ended up with 20 entries, and the Girl Scouts even came out,” King recalled. “It’s only rained twice in the past 20 years I’ve been (organizing parades) – it’s a pretty good record.”
Community members who are interested in joining the Parade of Lights can visit the Elk Grove Community Council’s website, www.ElkGroveCommunityCouncil.org.